Sunday, June 18, 2006

A couple of pre-conciliar pictures from St. Peter's Basilica..

Here is a picture of Pope John XXIII (I believe) celebrating the Solemn High Pontifical Mass in the classical Roman rite at the high altar of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. (I believe during the Second Vatican Council. Note the presence of the red drapery and candelabra, but also the presence of the two Byzantine deacons bowing at the foot of the altar.)

Moving along, here is another one, this time of Pope Pius XII at the same altar, celebrating a non-solemn Mass, either a Low Mass or Missa Cantata (Sung Mass without deacon, subdeacon, etc.)

One can picture in this particular altar arrangement that sort proposition by Cardinal Ratzinger as a possible versus populum "fix" whereby the priest whom happens to be oriented towards the people is still at least oriented to God the Father. This is accomplished by being not so concerned with unobstructed views of the priest by the laity and vice versa.

In effect, what Cardinal Ratzinger proposed is the implementation of a liturgical situation as was done in pre-conciliar times in St. Peter's Basilica -- due to the orientation of that basilica to the true East and that Basilica's maintenance of the literal (rather than liturgical) Eastward orientation tradition.

Of course, this leads us back again to the debate about the future of versus populum and ad orientem. Is this possible fix sufficient unto itself, or does the very nature of versus populum -- at least given our culture today -- need to be revisited and the former universal practice ultimately restored (even if after an interim and transition period that would employ this fix.)

Ultimately what we are speaking of is re-learning a sense in ordinary parishes of divine worship as divine worship and sacrifice, and not as a simple commnual meal and gathering.

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